Even through those important lessons, there is one that has helped me in my every day life. It has managed to help me go from going crazy in my head, to being at peace with situations I can’t always have control over.
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel stuck or trapped? I am taking about both physical and mental. For example, waiting anxiously for that special someone to text you back. Or not being physically strong enough to move something heavy. It can feel like a frustrating moment. That’s because most of us like being in control. But, once a situation comes up in our life that is out of our control, most of us go crazy. Not the fun kind of crazy, more like a messy crazy.
I have found a way to feel peace during those situations that are out of our control. It’s not with medication or drugs. It’s with remembering to breathe.
Yes, that's it. Remember to breathe. Through out yoga, there’s one thing yoga teachers always say: “breathe” or “inhale.. exhale” Most of us forget to breathe because it’s not something we have to remember to do. Our bodies just naturally do it. By remembering that you’re breathing and focusing on your breath even just for 5 minutes, can have calming effects for both your mind and body. Every time you go to a yoga class, you might notice the difference techniques in ways that teachers teach. They all have one thing in common. They challenge you with certain poses that you do not enjoy. Sometimes you even have to hold that certain pose and it makes you feel anything but peace.
This is when you begin to breathe. I know it might be challenging to remember to breathe if you’re holding the pose of warrior 3. The more you focus on how badly you want to get out the pose, the more frustrating it’ll get. Focus on your breath in that moment, is when you begin to realize that your mind tends to give up much faster than your body.
But this is not just when you’re in your yoga mat. This is a lesson to practice anywhere you go.
I can’t promise you life will be filled with rainbows and unicorns. I’d be lying to you if that were true. I will promise, however, that life will get messy. Sometimes you’ll feel at the highest in the roller coaster in your life and sometimes you’ll feel at the lowest point. The good thing about this is knowing that there are tools you can use for not being stuck in certain parts of your life.
This is where you use the same tool of breathing. The same way you focus on your breath during your yoga practice is the same way you’ll use for any life situations.
The reason why yoga taught me this, is because when we are in a challenging pose all the teacher says is to focus on your breath and not on your thoughts. I have learned to take this practice with me wherever I go and it’s one of the greatest tools I’ve learned. This is because even when life throws at me challenging situations, besides stressing out what else can we do? Breathe.
It wasn’t too long ago that I went through a situation that really triggered anger in me. I flew to another country to spend some time with my close friend. For months we were planning on this. We talked about all the places we were going to go, all the activities we could do. We were both filled with excitement and joy. I could feel it. It wasn’t until I arrived that everything started to turn upside down. He planned to pick me up at the airport and I was depending on him for that. Here I am waiting at an airport I’ve never been before and he never showed up. I took a taxi to the hotel and I wasn’t at my best mood. I had no wi-fi, no idea what was located around me, I was depending all on him. He showed up to the hotel later on and apologized saying he couldn’t leave work.
We moved on and decided to take actions for what we planned. Until short hours later his boss called him saying he had to work full-time that entire week. The entire week I was there. We went from feeling pure excitement to feeling stressed and sorry. More downfalls happened along the way and I couldn’t take it anymore. I grabbed my yoga mat and decided to take out all my emotions on the mat. It wasn’t until I remembered something that changed the situation quickly. Something I am now teaching you.
I challenged myself to hold cobra pose for 3 minutes. I learned from my teacher how wonderful this was for your lower back. It felt like I was holding it for 10 minutes or so. When I look at my timer, it had only been one! I was trying to hold it and was about to go crazy. In this moment was when I realized to breathe through the moment that feel like life is falling on you. Even though it’s not, most of us like to pretend it is.
Your yoga practice and real life are no different. The same frustrating moment you can feel when you’re holding a challenging pose can feel the same as if a bad situation is happening to you. Both of these teachings remind us to just breath.
Stressing more about the problems, won’t help them disappear. It won’t change people around you or the situations. But, it will change the way you react to them and it’ll change yourself.
I started to remember to breath and soon begin to practice my meditation again. Everything shifted with my friend. Sure, he still had to work full time and we couldn’t see all the places we were planning to see. But, what changed was my reaction to this. Instead of acting with frustration to something I couldn’t control, I started to feel peace and accepting the uncontrollable.
They say your yoga practice is never ending. Well let that be a reminder next time you roll out your yoga mat. Just like your life, there’s going to be moments when you feel like giving up. Don’t give up. In neither your yoga mat or in life. Just remember to breath.
The reason why this can be so important is because breathing takes you to the only moment life exists. The now. When you’re not focusing on your breath, your focusing on your thoughts. They take you to anywhere but the present moment.
Just remember to breathe.
Tara is an elementary school teacher, presently taking a much-needed break from teaching, and in turn dabbling in and out of different job roles. Her travels have taken her all over the world, previously living in Thailand, Taiwan and Cambodia. When she’s not travelling, or writing, you can find her doing what she loves, which is included but not limited to: lazing about in hammocks, eating salads, watching sunsets and reading.
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